Langley High School
"Crab, liquor, matches, what could go wrong?" Francis exclaimed, moments before his concoction blew up into flames. In 1963 Brighton, poverty-stricken Francis Henshall searches for employment to satiate his hunger. Working for Roscoe Crabbe, a gangster, and Stanley Stubbers, a posh coward, Henshall lives a dichotomous life before chaos eventually ensues. Filled with slapstick comedy, W.T. Woodson High School's rendition of "One Man, Two Guvnors" stirred endless laughter through the use of clear-cut character archetypes, random one liners, and unexpected audience interactions.
An English adaptation of "Servant of Two Masters," this Commedia dell'arte style play was written by Richard Bean. Originally opening at the National Theatre, "One Man Two Guvnors" toured the UK and later premiered on Broadway in April 2012. Receiving four nominations for the Outer Critics Circle Award, the play ran for three years before coming to a halt in March 2014.
Diya Selvan (Francis) shined onstage through her dramatic facial expressions and hilarious interactions with the audience. Between slurping real soup, throwing ridiculous tantrums, and delivering witty improv, Selvan maintained high energy and physical animation throughout the play's entirety. During the first act, Selvan comically scavenged for scraps, eating nibbled cheese inside of mouse traps and daydreaming about fish and chips. As the play progressed, however, she became more enamored with her love interest, Dolly, and shifted her focus on pursuing her instead of engaging in foolery, highlighting her theatrical versatility and ability to create a multifaceted character. Breaking the fourth wall, Selvan creatively pleaded for the audience's help in plotting her schemes, creating an engaging and enthralling performance.
Through his use of physical comedy, Peter Gardner (Alan), hilariously satirized stereotypical actors. Portraying an aspiring actor, Gardner passionately delivered his lines and employed dramatic hand gestures to complement his over-the-top character. Heartbroken after the love of his life, Pauline, left him to marry Roscoe, one of Francis' bosses, Gardner amusingly attempted to personify a macho, overly masculine character while still donning bright blue pants, thick black glasses, and a long scarf. The audience roared with laughter at the sight of Gardner's pathetic attempts to assert dominance over Roscoe.
Silas Blocker (Alfie) superbly embodied an elderly man, hunching his back and speaking slowly as he lethargically entered and exited the stage. Getting slammed into doors and frequently needing to be revived with his pacemaker, Blocker perfectly counteracted the youthful chaos in the play with his older, heartwarming character. In a humorous take with the help of the ensemble, Blocker defeated police officers as they tried to arrest him, adding to the ridiculous nature of the show.
The costumes designed by Leah Boucher, Amalia Manow, Madison Williams, and Katy Nguyen brought the characters to life and perfectly fit each of their archetypes. Pauline's outfit in particular matched her girlish character as she donned white Go-Go boots, a bright pink dress, and a sparkly belt. Further, the costumes differentiated the statuses of the characters, as penurious Francis wore a loose fitted, dull outfit in contrast to Stanley, Pauline, Alan, and Harry Dangle's more vibrant clothes. Additionally, the lighting by David Sprague, Noelle Cain, Lucas Czechowski, and Travis Conway flawlessly shifted the tones and moods of the scenes, becoming dimmer during asides and brighter during interactions between characters.
Through hilarious archetypes, astounding physical comedy, and ironic remarks, WT Woodson's "One Man, Two Guvnors" hilariously demonstrated life's chaotic nature, showing that all amends can be made with love, forgiveness, and well, food.
McLean High School
There are rarely theatrical productions that make you want to leap from your seat and rush onto the stage to join in the amusement, but this is true of W.T. Woodson High School's hilarious rendition of "One Man, Two Guvnors."
"One Man, Two Guvnors," a play by Richard Bean, was adapted from the legendary commedia dell'arte genre's "The Servant of Two Masters," which was centered on distinct archetypes and their objectives. The show is set in 1963 in Brighton, England, and revolves around Francis Henshall, a true chauvinist with just three cares in life: food, women, and complacency - in the laziest sense possible. He must make every effort to prevent his two "guvnors" (bosses) from crossing paths while he tends to their tasks. Who knows what amusing chaos will result?
The performers constantly achieved the humorous objectives of "One Man, Two Guvnors." Through line delivery or physical jokes, the show's rhythm was quick-paced and organic.
The enthusiasm was palpable throughout Diya Selvan's portrayal of Francis Henshall. Selvan was able to improvise witty comments with ease and interacted with the audience in a natural yet engaging way. With themself, Selvan put on a delightful fight scene as they maneuvered the convoluted language. They changed from becoming tenser around their guvnors to being playful with their love interest, Dolly. Dolly was played charmingly by Rachel Sper. She delivered her remarks about feminism with fervor, and her British accent and cadence were excellent. In contrast to Selvan's frenetic energy, Sper's cool composure worked beautifully.
Pauline Clench, the ditzy bride-to-be, was personified by the joyful Maddie Keene. Keene's soprano tone and wide-eyed gestures perfectly fit her character. Peter Gardner gave an excellent performance as her lover Alan Dangle. His melancholic and artistic smitten soliloquies were in keeping with the archetypal role of his persona, and Gardner had a recognizable flair that elevated the portrayal to new levels.
As the comical Alfie, Silas Blocker played a more minor but significant role in the play. His physical humor was dead on, as seen by several outrageous stunts, such as getting whacked over the head with a cricket bat and smashed by a door. The character's 87-year-old mannerisms were hilarious; his trembling hands and unsteady gait heightened the jocosity. Blocker's commanding theatrical presence demonstrated his complete dedication to his role.
The stunning props, created and overseen by Lea Mills, Nico Uy, and Will Shin, were impressive accomplishments. The homemade prop foods were terrific, albeit perhaps they didn't taste as delicious as they looked. It genuinely looked edible, and the level of detail was remarkable. Alfie's pacemaker added significant humorous components to the narrative, and it was clear each item was made with the utmost care. The set transitions were smooth and especially notable, thanks to the charming ensemble that would entertain the audience in improvised bits and amusing short scenes. They kept the crowd engaged in various costumes and settings before the curtain opened again to reveal the practical and eye-catching two-toned set designed by Savannah Rodgerson, Garek Kramer, Alex Kim, and Hiroko Rose. The cohesion of color choices and intentional themes through all technical categories was evident and added an extra element to the show's visual appeal.
"One Man, Two Guvnors," showcased at W.T. Woodson High School was a charismatic labor of love rather than mischief thanks to unrestrained humor and a dedicated cast and crew! This cast demonstrated that, in classic 1960s style, all you need is love.